Amazon is rolling out its robot delivery trial to more cities.
The e-commerce giant launched its delivery system, Amazon Scout, in January 2019 using electric, autonomous vehicles that can navigate sidewalks to deliver packages. They were first developed and tested in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, then rolled out in Irvine, California in August of that year. Now, Amazon will extend that trial to select customers in Atlanta, Georgia, and Franklin, Tennessee.
In a blog post Tuesday, Sean Scott, vice president of Amazon Scout, said the service was most recently used to help meet customer demand in the trial areas during the pandemic, in conjunction with its existing fleet of delivery vehicles.
"Amazon Scout has continued to operate during the pandemic and helped us meet increased customer demand by supplementing our transportation network," the post reads. "Adding Atlanta and Franklin to our existing operations gives Scout devices the opportunity to operate in varied neighborhoods with different climates than they operate in today."
The post noted that Amazon also has a significant presence in Atlanta and Franklin through corporate offices and warehouses, further explaining the location choice.
Amazon's little delivery bots are also landing in Franklin, Tennessee.
IMAGE: ERIN LEE ALLENDER / AMAZON
Each little six-wheeled, cooler-sized robot rolls along at a walking pace and can identify and navigate around obstacles, including pedestrians. Though the devices autonomously follow their delivery route, they will also initially be accompanied by a human attendant or "Amazon Scout Ambassador," and deliver Monday through Friday in daylight hours. The company stipulated a "small number" of devices would be coming to each city.
Here's a demonstration of Amazon Scout in action:
Amazon isn't the only company working with autonomous delivery robots during the pandemic. Refraction AI, a robot delivery startup founded by two University of Michigan professors, gained traction during this time too, helping restaurants keep delivery costs down and protecting their employees by limiting human interaction.
It's also not the only vehicle announcement Amazon made in July. It also unveiled the Amazon Dash Cart, a shopping cart that uses sensors to detect the items you’re adding.